“Cry Havoc…!”

Tonight, the country learned that President Trump ordered the launching of cruise missiles against a Syrian air base.  This was in response to the Syrian government’s air strike, with gas bombs, against civilians in rebel held territory.

I will be the first to admit that I am split personality in my reactions to this.  The pacifist in me fears that this is the first step to a deeper conflict.  The realist in me acknowledges that the Syrian government must learn that there is a price to pay when they use deadly gas against civilians.  One has only to look at the pictures and videos of gasping, dying children; to realize something needed to be done.  But now that the missles have flown, what happens next?  Do we have a Commander in Chief who will know what to do, now that he has “….let slip the dogs of war.”  I hope so; but in the meantime, I will add my prayers to countless others, that the Father will guide us and protect us:  

I raise my eyes toward the mountains.  From where will my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

The Lord will guard you from all evil, will always guard your life. The Lord will guard your coming and your going, both now and forever.   (Psalm 121: 1-2, 7-8)

Fifth Week of Lent Reflection – 2017

Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise.’  Martha said to him, ‘I I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day’  Jesus told her,

‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and in me will never die.’

I think that in many ways, the above statement by Jesus is among the most powerful in Saint John’s Gospel.  It is indeed, the “Good News” that a suffering, weary world is waiting for, yearning for.

I feel, however, that these words give more than hope for eternal life, after death.  For those of us weighed down by the life’s heavy burdens; we will rise!  For those of us threatened by persecution and discrimination; we will rise!  For those of us who are in depression and despair; we will rise!  By the love and power of Christ; we will rise!


Snow Day – And Aftermath

“Let the earth bless the Lord; praise and exalt Him above all forever!…Frost and chill, bless the Lord!  Ice and snow, bless the Lord!”  (Paraphrase from the Book of Daniel)

New England has just been through its first major blizzard of 2017.  With some delay, I was able to make it to and from work without incident (or frostbite!). 

Now, we have blue skies and bright sunlight reflecting off newly fallen snow.  It is the beauty of it, that makes me glad I am a Massachusetts man.  (Most of the time!)

2017 – A New Year

2017-new-yearSo the year 2016 is past, the year 2017 has begun.  The world, our country has been afflicted by violence whether by state sponsored or terrorist sponsored attacks.  Many times the violence has been random.  The call of “Peace on Earth; Goodwill to all!” seems to ring hollow during this holiday season.

Our country has been through the most raucous presidential election season, since the early days of the Republic!  And it has revealed that there are deep divisions in our nation.  The concept of civil discourse and debate seems to have flown out of the window.  And we have elected a person as President that many do not respect; that others are a little concerned about his style of governance; and what it portends for the next four years

While engaged in Morning Prayer, I came across this verse from Psalm 42 “Why are you downcast my soul; why do you groan within me?  Wait for God, whom I shall praise again, my savior and my God.”  This will be verse I think will become my new mantra for this coming year.

On New Year’s Eve, I joined my wife at a worshipping community she goes to; and participated in a Burning Bowl ceremony.  We were invited to write down on a slip of flash paper, something negative we wanted God’s help in taking away from us.  We then placed the slips in a bowl that had a small fire; which consumed the petitions.  It was very moving.

The year of 2016 has been a year of some changes for me personally.  I finally found employment at a South Shore company; starting in January, 2016.  So I will be entering my second year of employment, and it has been good.  The commute is long, two hours to and back; using commuter train and subway.  I am always telling people that at least someone else is doing the driving.

In September of this year, I will be entering my fifth year as an ordained Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church.  I cannot believe that much time has passed.  I have been assigned to three Beverly, MA, parishes; where most of my work has been liturgical, assisting at 5 of Masses celebrated in two of three parishes.  It seems a lot; but I have experienced spiritual aid, that helps me perform my sacred duties well.  The Deacon has several ways of service he offers to the Church; a service of Worship, service of the Word, and a service of Charity.  I am still reflecting and discerning what that means in my daily life.  What role should daily prayer, daily reading, and meditating of Scripture should have.  I am not where I think I should be.  Maybe, this New Year, I will find some guidance; and perhaps some improvement.

A New Year begins, a year of fear, a year of anxiety, but also a year of hope, a year of change, and a year of trust in the Lord.

Yearar

Coffee Share  11/21/2016

deacon coffee mugGood day!  I usually meet you all on the weekend over a cup of coffee.  However, if we were having a cup right now; I would tell you that yesterday, I jammed the tips of my fingers in a closing door.  My pastor had to rush off to a wake service, after Sunday Mass. I volunteered to check our main doors, to make sure they were locked up tight.  One set of doors did not seem right, so I pushed them open a bit. Still do not remember exactly what happened, but suddenly my left hand fingers were caught in the doors.  There is no serious damage, a little bruising under one nail, and the fingertips are still a little sore.  So it has been a little painful typing yesterday.  Right now, I am using my thumbs on my mobile phone.  Not quite sure this is an improvement.

Over a cup of coffee, I would tell that we had our first snow of the year!  It was only a dusting, but I still had to brush our car off.

Over a cup of coffee, I would share with you my growing anxiety about  this presidential transition.  I have through a dozen presidential elections; and I do not remember it ever being like this.  I have in the past reserved judgment until a new administration was up in running.  But this transition, the opinions of people that they are bringing into government, quite frankly, scare me.

As I write this, I am watching a beautiful sunrise.  I remember a quote from the writings of English mystic, Julian of Norwich: “All will be well, all will be well.”  See you soon over a cup of coffee.

Election Day in the U.S. – 2016


After a very long, angry and bitter campaign; it is now up to us citizens.  Now, my wife, Peg, and I voted last Friday, at Beverly City Hall; the last day for early voting in Massachusetts.  The first floor was set up for voting, using old fashioned voting booths.  We checked off our preferences with a pencil; sealed our ballots in envelopes; and deposited them in a ballot box.  Even though we had to wait on line; everyone was friendly, and helpful to each other.

What will happen today; what kind of country we will have at dawn, remains a mystery.  After I saw a report on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” I am still worried.  They hired a pollster, (worked for Republican campaigns), to form a focus group.  He brought together a diverse group of individuals; who promptly went after each other’s throats.  No civil discussion, just anger came out against each other.  Even the pollster expressed fear over what he was seeing, and what it meant for the country.

The preamble of our Constitution begins with: “We, the People..”. We cannot lose sight of the fact, that each of us, in small ways and large, contribute to the ongoing experiment in democracy, that is the United States.  We may chose to build it up, tear it down, or let it whither on the vine.  This is the “choice,” we face; not just tonight, but in all days to come.

Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time – 2016

 

millaisthe_pharisee_and_the_publican_tateSirach 35: 12-14, 16-18

2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 16-18

Luke 18: 9-14

 

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we read the parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector, who both go up to the Temple in Jerusalem to pray.  Jesus tells us about how the Pharisee “took up his position.”  Jesus hints that this Pharisee had a designated spot, probably in a prominent place in the Temple Sanctuary.  Jesus has the Pharisee, in his prayers, tell God of the “good” he has done during his life; how thankful he is, that God did not make him like the rest of humanity, especially that (ugh!) tax collector in the back of the Temple courtyard.  Jesus, in his tale, turns our attention to that tax collector; who many in Israel of this at time, considered a thief and a traitor.  This tax collector is on his knees, bent over, not daring to raise his eyes.  His only prayer is: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”  Jesus then must have shocked his audience when he declared that the tax collector left the Temple area justified, but not the Pharisee!  It all has to do with humility.

Humility is somewhat of a dirty word in our society.  Our social media, our TV programming, our magazines, are full of stories of people who really make a big deal of themselves. In no way could it be said that they are being humble. Those seeking a job, are always told to present yourself in the best possible light; really sell yourself and your skills to a possible employer.  There is no room for being humble in that scenario.  Or is there?  What I mean is that to be humble, is not that we let other people walk over us; but that we acknowledge our true self, the self that was created by God.  We acknowledge all the gifts and talents we possess, were given to us by the God who loves us.  We acknowledge that everyone else around us, has been similarly blessed with unique skills and talents.   And to be humble, is to also acknowledge that at times, we may have misused those skills and talents. And we acknowledge that we need the healing power of the Father’s forgiveness.

Jesus is calling on us to remember who we truly are; what our relationship with God truly is.  In a certain way, Jesus is echoing the words of the prophet Micah: “You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you; Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with you God.” (Micah 6:8)